Travel Like a Girl Scout

Travel. Something Girl Scout Senior Amanda M. is incredibly passionate about. She’s been on three Girl Scout Destination trips since she was old enough to apply. Space Camp in Huntsville, AL in 2015,
Leadership in the Andes in Peru in 2016 and STEM: Energy Solutions in Germany in 2017; a progression of location, skills and experience in true Girl Scout fashion.

Left: Taking the view in at Neuschwanstein Castle. Center: Amanda at Our Chalet. Right: Enjoying the Girl Scout energy at Our Chalet!

Over the course of 13 days this summer, Amanda, along with 15 other Girl Scouts from around the United States traveled throughout Germany and Switzerland learning about sustainable and renewable energy and global energy policies.

“I’ve always know that I wanted to work with sustainable energy, something that’s good for the environment. I knew this Destination would further my knowledge and passion and give me real life experiences that weren’t just isolated in the United States,” Amanda said.

This Destination, like her others, was an eye-opening experience for Amanda.

Before they left the country, the group of 16 Girl Scouts spent two days in Boston getting to know each other and learning about sustainable energy in the United States so they would understand the differences when they were learning Germany and Switzerland. One perspective they gained was how other countries value their energy sources more than the United States because unlike the United States, they’ve experienced a loss of them. As a young country, the United States just can’t relate in that way.

 

Left: Turbines at a power plant in Germany. Center: Wind turbine in Switzerland. Right: Green living project.

This Girl Scout Destination experience, like her others, diversify her learning and expand her studies outside of school.

“Destinations are a great outlet for girls to not only extend their education, but extend themselves as people,” Amanda explained. “You can take a girl and give her Google, or give her a ticket to go to Peru or Germany and the education is completely different. My generation wants to just watch things on YouTube; stepping outside of their comfort zone will give them life. It’s an impact that is completely unfathomable.”

This Destination had a significant impact on Amanda as a Girl Scout as well. While in Switzerland they had the opportunity to visit one of the World Centers, Our Chalet in Adelboden. As if they hadn’t bonded as Girl Scouts already, they were once again reminded of the national and global Movement they all belong to. While at Our Chalet they met British Girl Guides and Amanda describes the bond as almost instant.

Amanda’s Destination group at Our Chalet.

As recognition of her passion for travel and education through Girl Scout Destinations, Amanda was nominated as Girl Scout of the year by EF Girl Scouts, the travel partner of Girl Scouts of the USA. As part of her nomination, she had to write about her Destination experiences.

Standing below a towering windmill you take a deep breath of air and look out across the valley.  Chalets sprinkled across the hillside open their windows to welcome in the fresh summer air.  Some people don’t understand just how essential travel is to developing one’s self.  To me, travel is important because it affords me the opportunity to experience other cultures in a way that I would not be able to inside of a classroom.  The life lessons you can learn just by getting on an airplane and walking around a plaza in Peru, or a museum in Germany, or a Koi pond in Japan can never be replicated.  So I encourage you to travel.  See things like you have never seen before, live life through a lens of curiosity.

 These experiences can be even more impactful when going on a trip with a group of strangers. After just a few days of friendship you will start to feel like you have known your new acquaintances for your whole life.  As a group of Girl Scouts I developed deep ever-lasting bonds with young women from all areas of the United States.  While touring Our Chalet in Switzerland my American group met British Girl Guides, and the bond was almost instant.  Within minutes we were singing songs, shared social media handles, and told stories of our experiences as Scouts. Whether visiting abroad or within the borders, meeting a group of Girl Scouts is like finding long lost sisters, and the adults, parents.  The experience I received on the trip helped to form my world view, and I hope that you will love it as much as I did.

Amanda is truly a G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader) when it comes to travel!

Applications are now open for 2018 Girl Scout Destinations and the first deadline to apply with preferential placing is November 15. Don’t wait, plan your trip to #travellikeagirlscout!

Total Solar Eclipse of the Girl Scout Heart

August 21, 2017 the date of the first total solar eclipse to be visible in the continental United States in 99 years. It was hyped up to be a natural phenomenon, one that had everyone preparing and planning for the day well in advance of the actual eclipse. According to four of our Girl Scouts who experienced totality while on a Girl Scout destination, it far exceeded the hype!

Girl Scout Cadettes Ashleigh Beabout from Gardner KS and Belle Reed from Blue Springs made the trip to Total Eclipse of the Heartland in Carbondale, IL for Girl Scouts of Southern Illinois’ five day destination. They stayed at council property but ventured into St. Louis, MO for some unique learning opportunities then watched the eclipse on the football field at Southern Illinois University.

Left: Belle waiting to see the shadowbands on the white tarp. Center: Ashleigh with her Girl Scout sisters and NASA staff. Right: Ashleigh waiting to see the shadowbands on the tarp.

The second destination location was in Columbia, MO with Girl Scouts of Missouri Heartland (GSMH). Katie Blankenship from Gardner, KS and Emilie Sula-Goff from Lee’s Summit spent 3 days learning about astronomy, touring the University of Missouri and experiencing total solar eclipse at GSMH’s Silver Meadows Program Center with their families!

All four girls were extremely interested in astronomy going into their destination. Katie has talked with an astronaut in outer space and Emilie is fascinated with supernovas! But, an eclipse was something entirely new to them since there had yet to be one in the United States during their lifetime.

“I didn’t know what to expect because nobody here has experienced it before,” Ashleigh said.

This natural phenomena united adults and children, scientists and educators and the entire country. It was an experience that can truly be once in a lifetime. For Emilie her eclipse destination reunited her with her Girl Scout sister Alexandria who lives in California, where Emilie is originally from.

They had been waiting for the time when they were old enough and could agree on a location and apply together. The Great Eclipse Adventure with GSHM was the perfect fit for these astronomy and mythology loving Girl Scouts.

“It was so neat that they got to go on this destination together; then I got to bring their brothers and experience the actual eclipse with them.” Emilie’s mother, Erin said.

Left: Emilie (far right) with Alexandria and other Girl Scout sisters. Center: Katie & Becky Blankenship. Right: Emilie, Alexandria and their brothers during the eclipse.

While the total eclipse itself was only about 2 minutes, it left a lasting impression on each of them.

“I felt very lucky that I got to experience this at age 11 when other people don’t get to experience their entire life,” Belle said.

There are so many environmental factors that play into a person actually being able to see a total solar eclipse, which is why they’re considered to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. And, while it’s been 99 years since the United States saw a total solar eclipse, it’ll only be 7 more years until we experience it again and these Girl Scouts are already thinking about where and how they’ll see it…when most of them are seniors in High School.

Girl Scouts of the USA is rolling out their destination programs for the 2017-2018 year. To have an experience like Katie, Emilie, Ashleigh and Belle, check out the GSUSA Destination page. The first deadline to apply is in November!

Taking a Risk and Finding Your Passion

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Evelyn Peat’s Girl Scout Destination to Rock-N-Wilderness

With dozens upon dozens of Girl Scout Destinations to choose from, there is trip for every Girl Scout.

If she wants to be a go-getter, honing her photography skills while hiking through a national park, she can.

If she wants to discover more about herself as a leader while backpacking through Peru with a pack of llamas, she can.

If she wants to be a risk-taker, canoeing through the boundary waters, she can.

Evelyn Peat did.

Evelyn is a Girl Scout Senior and one of five girls in troop 3394 out of Topeka, KS. Just like any other troop, #3394 is girl-led. They choose what activities they will do each year, together. But, one of the great things about being a Girl Scout is that you can also do things outside of your troop that have particular interest to you – like a Girl Scout Destination!

You see, Evelyn loves the outdoors – camping, exploring and taking risks as a Girl Scout. So when her mom told her about a trip called Rock-N-Wilderness that would take her up to Minnesota to canoe through the various lakes that make up the Boundary Waters and through Canada, she was sold.

Through her experiences on Lake Odonata at Camp Daisy Hindman, Evelyn knew that she liked canoeing and that she wanted to do more of it!

Her Destination started out at a Girl Scout Camp in Duluth, MN where she was put into a group with six other Girl Scouts from around the country and two guides. The first two days they did team building exercises and learned the ins and outs of canoeing. They also did a small kayaking expedition, something Evelyn had never done before!

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For the next seven days, Evelyn and her group canoed over 50 miles through Minnesota into Canada and back, camping and cooking their meals along the way. During those seven days Evelyn learned more about herself as a G.I.R.L. (go-getter, innovator, risk taker and leader.)™

“I really liked the since of accomplishment I felt each day. I learned that I can always push myself to go farther; even if I think I can’t,” Evelyn said.

 

Throughout the trip their guides were constantly monitoring the weather, determining the best time for the group to be out on the water, completing their trek. This meant that some days they canoed in the early mornings, some in the afternoons and once, during the night! They were prepared for whatever they might encounter and had supplies and food packed for those seven days in the wilderness.

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There are three roles in a canoe – the bow (front), the stern (back) and princess (middle). The guides quickly realized that Evelyn was an excellent bow and often looked to her to navigate the choppy waters, not only for her own canoe, but for the entire group.

While out on the Boundary Waters, something really special happened to Evelyn. She crossed paths with her brother who happened to be on a Boy Scout expedition himself!

At the conclusion of her destination, Evelyn met back up with her family for a mini-vacation in Minnesota while they waited for her brother’s expedition to conclude. During that time she convinced her family to go kayaking out on Lake Superior!

Since she has returned, her passion for canoeing and kayaking has remained steady. The Peat family has been out to Eisenhower State Park where they can rent canoes and kayaks by the hour. Other families have joined in on these outings and Evelyn has been teaching others how to properly and safely be out on the water!

She’s even taught her 10-year old brother how to canoe!

Melissa Peat, Evelyn’s mom, sees a difference in Evelyn since she’s returned. “I’ve realized how much more confidence she has and she is communicating better,” Melissa explained. “When we have gone out kayaking and canoeing with friends, she is a leader and teaches people what to do!”

Thanks to Girl Scouts, Evelyn took risks and discovered a new passion that she is now sharing with those all around her!

November 15 is the first application deadline for 2017 Girl Scout Destinations! Where will you travel as a G.I.R.L (go-getter, innovator, risk-taker, leader)?

Leadership in the Andes

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Girl Scout Senior Amanda M. is no stranger to travel. As a freshman in high school, her passport already dons more stamps than many grown adults. This summer, she added Peru to that stamp collection when she traveled with Girl Scout destinations on a Leadership in the Andes trip!

For 12 days, Amanda was fully immersed in the Peruvian culture with 15 other Girl Scouts from all over the United States.

The leadership skill building aspect of this trip is what really caught her attention – and the fact that it was in the mountains of a foreign country. “I knew I wanted to do another destination [after Space Camp last year]. I wanted to expand my boundaries and further myself,” Amanda explained. “I thought this would be a cool experience; you’re out of the county and you have to lead yourself and other girls!”

And what a cool experience Amanda had.

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Her and the group toured cathedrals, an alpaca farm, salt mines, Sacred Valley, volunteered at an orphanage and visited Machu Picchu; but, the bulk of the trip was a four-day, 20 mile backpacking trek through the Andes Mountains.

To prepare herself for the physical aspects of her destination, Amanda speed hiked with 15 lbs. in her backpack in her neighborhood every day. Her mom, Terri jokes that the neighbors started to wonder if she was practicing running away!

Amanda and the group hiked the Lares Trek, a more difficult path than the famous Inca trail. Each girl was responsible for carrying a day pack that held items they wanted immediately available to them, while over 20 llamas carried all their camping gear! They camped at various sites each night and had guides that would setup the campsites and cook dinner for the group. “We had a lot of freedom to search and explore,” Amanda said. Over the course of four days, they climbed from 9,000 feet to over 15,000 and even got a clear view of the Milky Way one night.

“It was hard work but it was so worth it!” Amanda said.

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A lot of the leadership development for the Girl Scouts happened during the trek. “I learned that while that I’m a very rough and tough person, that I’m not really that rough and tough,” Amanda explained. “I have limits and I have to accept that. It’s hard to be able to ask for help and say that you need a break, when you think you’re putting your pride on the line but you have to see your limits, accept them and love yourself for who you are.”

The pinnacle of the trip for Amanda was her visit to Machu Picchu. The group spent nearly six hours touring the ancient ruins and soaking up every bit of information the guides gave them.  One of the things they learned was that unfortunately Machu Picchu won’t last forever. First, because its sits on a fault line and second because of all the foot traffic. While there is some regulation of visitors, they’re not always followed or enforced.

Amanda was particularly fascinated with the tourism industry in Peru and had the opportunity to speak Spanish and converse with older girls at the orphanage they visited about it.

“The positive is that tourism improves their economy, the negative is that they’re losing some of their culture because of the tourism,” Amanda said.

Their guides taught them about sustainable tourism and what to look for in items they were purchasing. She learned how to tell the difference between foreign items and those which were locally sourced and produced in Peru. Amanda made it her mission to only purchase these sustainable items and came home with sweaters, socks, ponchos and more for her family!

She even bought every girl on the trip a friendship bracelet and wrote them a letter at the end of the trip. “I had a personal bond with every single girl in the group, even the leaders; I thought that was so cool.”

Every Girl Scout on the destination wrote a word that described Amanda on her flag.

Every Girl Scout on the destination wrote a word that described Amanda on her flag.

Amanda’s experience in Peru expanded her horizons and she realized that a major part of being a leader has to do with being true to yourself. “The leadership development they did with us was a lot more on the emotional side of things and how you feel.  You have to love yourself to ultimately lead others.”

Is your Girl Scout interested in an experience like Amanda’s? The first deadline to apply for a Girl Scout destination trip is Nov. 15! Domestic trips begin at the Junior level and international travel opportunities are available to Girl Scout Cadettes and older – find out more!

Blast off to Space Academy

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A Girl Scout Travel Spotlight: Rebecca Hoff

It’s no secret that Girl Scouting provides girls with opportunities of a lifetime. This is something that Amanda M. communicated at her service unit meeting when talking about her Girl Scout destination experience at the Space Academy in Huntsville, AL.

Lucky for Rebecca Hoff, her mom (and troop leader) was at that meeting. Like Amanda, Rebecca is a Girl Scout Cadette and is always on the lookout for new experiences. So after hearing Amanda speak, Trish knew that a trip like Amanda’s was just up Rebecca’s alley.

After doing some research on all the destination options for Rebecca, they both decided that the Space Academy was the perfect first trip to take.

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When Rebecca arrived at Space Camp, she didn’t know a single soul, but knew everyone at the same time – she was one of 84 other Girl Scouts from around the world!

Girls were split into small groups and Rebecca was assigned to team Ariel, with 14 other Girl Scouts. Throughout the week they learned to work together to accomplish tasks and complete missions. These missions were Rebecca’s favorite part of the experience. “It was so realistic – if you messed up, it actually mattered.”

For each mission the team was equipped with a book – kind of like a play. Each girl was assigned a role and was given lines to say. It was up to them to go through their lines and execute specific tasks; each task impacting those of another crew member.

For their first mission, Rebecca’s role was in mission control and she had to make sure that the people in the rocket ship had enough oxygen as well as survey the weather conditions of their landing spot. This was the only mission that her team performed without any incidents!

Their other missions included a task where Rebecca was strapped into a space suit to complete jobs that mimic those of real astronauts and one where she had to transfer ships in space and board a replica of the International Space Station!

In addition to the missions, Rebecca got to hear from astronauts, Jan Davis (female astronaut) and Jerry Ross (the record holder for the most space walks), participate in anti-gravity activities and go through several team building exercises! “I learned that if you’re going to be a leader, you have to lead but you have to give people the opportunity to express their ideas – it was challenging to get all 15 girls to agree!”

With all the fun Rebecca had, you wouldn’t have known that this was her first real trip away from home.

“Before she went she was very concerned about not knowing anyone there, it was a very big concern.” Trish explained. “Now I think she’ll be less apprehensive about doing something where she doesn’t know anyone.”

Not only did Rebecca come home with a new knowledge of all things space, she also came home with a ton of new Girl Scout friends!

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Left: Team Ariel; Right: Rebecca working on a mission.

“It was an amazing experience. I don’t think I would have that opportunity to do this had it not been for Girl Scouts,” Rebecca said.

Rebecca’s story is the first in a series of Girl Scout destination stories we’ll be bringing you throughout the summer as our other four Girl Scouts return from adventures in the Andes Mountains and Costa Rica, just to name a few!

Girl Scout destinations is a program from GSUSA and trips are being added to their website year-round. Is there a destination location that inspires you to get out of your comfort zone and learn something new?!

A Destination Perfect for a Horse Enthusiast

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When you grow up with horses and compete in horse competitions, it takes a special program to impress an elite equestrian.

Kellie Holm is a Girl Scout Senior and is an equestrian enthusiast, horseback riding since she was just 18 months old.  Her first horse was a gift from her aunt, and Kellie has been competing ever since. Kellie was so advanced for her age that competitions asked her to move from the youth division to the adult one. The first time she moved up, she took third place, at the ripe age of 7.

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So, when Kellie’s mom (and troop leader) came home with information on a destination that was equestrian- focused, Kellie wasn’t instantly sold.

However, Kellie wanted to participate in a Girl Scout destination. She is a well-versed traveler and was looking for a new experience through Girl Scouts, so she decided to go ahead and register for the Happy Trails destination at Camp Misty Mountain in Arumchee, Georgia.

Kellie flew into Atlanta and made the 2 hour trip north with staff from Misty Mountain (a Girl Scout Camp in the Greater Atlanta Council). Upon her arrival she met the 22 other Girl Scouts from all over the country that she would be riding with for the next week.

On the first full day of the destination, the equestrian staff met with each Girl Scout individually to assess their skill level. Naturally, Kellie was the most experienced rider at camp, but she wasn’t alone. This was the first time she had met other Girl Scouts who had the same passion and level of expertise when it came to horses.

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“I was little worried it would be like all the other camps for beginners. They were really great about catering it to everybody’s level,” Kellie explained.

The girls were divided into groups for the week, but each group interacted with each other during riding times.

“It was nice to have other girls there who could relate to things about horses! We could have conversations about horses and showing [them] that made sense to each other,” Kellie said.

While there aren’t many things that Kellie hasn’t done with horses, she did have an equestrian “first” while on her destination, she went on a horseback riding overnight!

One evening they packed overnight bags and saddled up their horses for a 2 hour ride out from camp. Her group set up a campsite for the night, tied their horses up in a pasture and they slept under the stars!  The next morning they made breakfast and rode the two hours back to camp!

Throughout the week Kellie got to ride and continue practicing her skills. One of her favorite things was seeing other girls, those who don’t have as much equestrian experience as her, work on their own horseback riding skills.

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“It was cool to get to see girls enjoying [their first] trail ride and mounting back up from the ground!”

At the end of the week Kellie found herself talking to the staff about returning next year and the possibility of her participating in a Wrangler in Training program!

After such a rewarding experience, Kellie hopes to see more girls travel and explore through Girl Scout destinations.

“Be yourself and talk about the things you like. People aren’t going to judge you there, it’s safe.”

The first round of applications for the destination program are due by November 15! There are over 35 domestic and international travel opportunities for Girl Scouts who are looking to expand their horizons, try something new, or learn more about something they’re already passionate about! See the full list!

Great Big Adventure in Yellowstone National Park

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For Girl Scout Cadette Emily P. from Olathe, Kansas, the idea of traveling and exploring new places was extremely intriguing. So naturally, she was very excited when she discovered the Girl Scout destinations’ program! Emily spent hours combing through all the location options and finally decided on taking a trip out west to explore the mountains, a natural landmark that she had never seen in person before.

“This was a chance to meet new people and learn more about nature,” Emily said.

Emily’s mom and friend were curious as well so they decided to make a trip of it with Emily! So the three ladies loaded up the car and spent 2.5 days driving across the US to Yellowstone National Park.

Emily arrived at Teton Science School at Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming and met up with 24 other Girl Scouts from all around the country. Prior to her departure, the group got an email thread going to virtually introduce themselves. These would be the girls that she would learn and explore with for the next six days.

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The first couple of days the girls stayed in little cabins at the school, got to know each other and learned more about the area and wildlife around where they were staying.

On the third day, they packed up their cabins and headed off to explore and camp in Yellowstone.

While in the park Emily and her group were exploring around the base of Devil’s Tower, one of the park’s most prominent rock structures. There were large boulders at the bottom, suitable for some impromptu amateur climbing and exploring. Before this trip, Emily wouldn’t have thought to explore, she didn’t consider herself much of a climber. However, at this particular instance she was surrounded by her Girl Scout sisters who mustered the courage to try it out and Emily found herself right along with them, and made it to the top of the boulder pile.

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“I feel more experienced and braver. I used to be scared about a lot of things, now I’m not as scared of them,” Emily explained.

Emily’s favorite part of the trip was learning how to canoe. Although she had multiple outdoor experiences with her troop, Emily had yet to experience this exciting outdoor activity!

“I was the motor in the front because I was the least experienced,” she said.

Through this activity, she learned how to work in a team, communicating when and where she was paddling with the more experienced canoe buddy in the back.

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“I have more knowledge to take back to my troop the next time we go on a camping trip,” Emily said.

The most challenging part of the trip wasn’t camping at night in the 50 degree weather, learning to canoe or pitching her tent; it was hiking the 4+ miles a day!

“I don’t think I was physically prepared for that much hiking!” Emily explained.

She didn’t let that stop her from keeping up with the group and experiencing all the awesome things that Yellowstone had to offer them, though.

“It was a great experience and I would love to do it again.”

Emily has already been on the Girl Scout destinations’ page browsing the trips for 2016 and is anxious to see the full list that publishes today! Another outdoor adventure program or possibly a trip that would put her on a plane and take her abroad for the first time in her life are both on her radar!

It was clear to Emily’s mother, Janet that Girl Scout destinations are the way to go. “I wanted her to get the experience of meeting other girls, trying new things and just to see the rest of the world. These are places I wouldn’t have been able to take her without the destinations,” Janet said.

See the full list of Girl Scout destinations and plan a trip that will forever change your girls’ life!

Exploring the Boundary Waters

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For Girl Scout Senior, Agnes “Kate” Nash, going on a Girl Scout destination trip was something she’s wanted to do ever since her older sister returned from a destination trip to Wyoming two years ago.

After looking over all the locations and options, Kate selected the Boundary Waters Wilderness Canoe trip. This adventure would take her up to Minnesota where she would canoe and camp for seven days into Canada.IMG_1440

Having never flown before, Kate’s Dad suggested a family road trip to Minneapolis that would include a baseball game! Wanting to have the complete travel experience like her sister and fly for the first time and by herself, Kate shot that idea down!

Kate met up with 20 other Girl Scouts from around the country in the Duluth airport for a full 12 days of adventure. The group spent a couple days in Duluth, exploring, learning and getting to know each other before being split into three groups for the expedition.

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“I was scared about the other girls liking me. Then I realized that all of them were just as worried about that as I was,” she said.

Due to the rules of the Boundary Waters, no more than 9 individuals can be in a group. It’s an effort to preserve the natural beauty of the land by limiting waste build up.

There was something special in store for Kate, whose real name is Agnes. She was pre-assigned to be in the group that would travel through her namesake, Lake Agnes!

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After receiving a full day’s training, Kate’s group was ready to take to the water. They were led by two guides, both of whom had been on this destination before and were Girl Scout alumnae! The first morning on the water the guides asked the girls to take off their watches. “It’s a better experience if you don’t have a watch,” Kate explained. “Go by the sky.”

Over the course of seven days, they traveled nearly 75 miles by canoe.

“It surprised me how big the lakes were and how quickly we could move,” she said.

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Each day they would port. Take the canoes out of the water, walk them across land and enter another lake. The distance would be anywhere from 7 rods to 80 (a rod is the length of one canoe). One day, they had eight portages!

“The port trips were hard and it [the canoe] was very heavy, Kate said. “It was tedious – take everything out and put it all back in.”

They traveled with everything they would need for seven beautiful days in the wilderness. This included food, shelter and three sets of clothes – a wet set that was worn during the day, a dry set they changed into when they set up camp and pajamas. Then cycle through the same clothes the next day.

“This is probably the best [Girl Scout experience] because I haven’t done anything like it. I got to do something different and all the girls actually wanted to be there. They were serious about it.”

Her group made it back to the base site and began to clean up their gear and themselves. In the spirit of preserving the land, the use of soap is prohibited outside the base because it kills the natural organisms.

“I learned that I am stronger than I thought and that I can make friends,” Kate said

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Kate has plans of making the trip again, only next time she wants to take her sister! The base will provide the guides, canoes, food and supplies for those who are interested in exploring without a group.

“This trip made me more aware of the environment and how we’re changing it,” Kate said.

Kate’s mom has now seen what Girl Scout destination trips do for girls, twice. “They come home and their so incredibly excited about their experience. One more step in that process of getting bigger and better and doing more exciting things,” Sarah said.

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Kate traveled with Silvias, a little cow that also accompanied her sister Eleanor on her destination!

Girl Scout destinations’ makes it possible for girls to safely travel the world and try new things. They can’t scuba dive with sea turtles, make a movie in California, get a taste of outer space or canoe in the wilderness, among many other things! Find a destination that will help build your girl of courage, confidence and character!

Houston, We Have Dream Liftoff!

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Girl Scout destination to Space Camp – Amanda M.

Ever since Cadette Girl Scout Amanda M. visited the Cosmosphere with her Girl Scout troop in 3rd grade, she has dreamed of being an astronaut.

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By attending The Barstow School, Amanda has also taken classes with Mr. Beier, who happens to also work for NASA studying black holes.

You might see a natural progression and growth of her desire to be an astronaut here.

This summer, Amanda’s dream came true in a big way. Through Girl Scout destinations, Amanda got to attend Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama with 11 other Girl Scouts from around the county.

When the opportunity to go to Space Camp with Girl Scout destinations arose, it was a no-brainer for her mom, Terri Munsell. In fact, when Terri was a Girl Scout in the 70’s and 80’s she traveled with Girl Scouts through a similar program!

For six days, Amanda got to eat, sleep and breathe space!  Included in those days were two special simulated missions, one involving the International Space Station (ISS) and another a lunar mission to Mars. Both experiences gave girls the chance to play different roles such as commander, mission specialists, pilot, capsule communicator and more!

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On their first mission the girls got to work in the movie prop and simulator from “A Smile as Big as the Moon.”

Their first mission also happened to have a movie-type ending.

With five minutes to spare, Amanda and her team ran into a little snafu trying landing their spacecraft. The instructions said to ‘please see landing booklet,’ a very important book that they couldn’t locate. On approach, they realized that they were going to have to forget the landing booklet and land the aircraft manually! Now following verbal commands, they were to engage the landing gears. Once again they were unable to locate the switch!

“With one second left to go, we got the landing gear engaged!” Amanda said.

Not knowing if the gear had engaged in time, they asked if they had indeed survived this simulated mission. As baffled as they were, Houston informed them that they had in fact survived!

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Each morning at Space Camp started with a briefing – just like real NASA training. Then they would go to a training that involved hands-on science experiments with outer space and then eat lunch. For lunch, they were served space food from countries that have sent people to the International Space Station. Dishes were from Japan, Russia, the United States and several other countries.

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One afternoon during Space Camp, Amanda got to hear a special guest speaker, Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger. Dottie is a former Girl Scout and the first Space Camp alumni to actually travel into space! Originally a teacher, she was recruited by NASA in 2010 for a 15 day mission in order to bring supplies to the ISS and repair the air conditioner.

“She actually had to stay an extra day in space,” Amanda explained. “Oh you know, the heartbreak!”

Clearly she sees no problem with extending one’s time in space!

Dottie explained to the group how every space mission gets to design their own patch that they wear on their space suite. Keeping the similarities between Space Camp and actual NASA missions, each of the teams designed their own patch and Amanda’s team won for best design!

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Before she headed to Huntsville, Amanda watched the movie “Space Camp” to try and get an idea of what to expect.

“After [Space Camp] I wanted to be able to tell myself ‘ok Amanda you can do this.’ I wanted to be inspired; I wanted to learn how it all works. I didn’t want to just learn that [space missions] were a thing; I wanted to learn what issues it could have and how to fix those issues. And I did,” Amanda said.  I got all of my wishes fulfilled.”

To say that Amanda learned a lot at Space Camp is a bit of an understatement. Her and her team successfully completed two missions, which is impressive in itself.

“There are so many girls and people around the country who are interested in space. I’ve never met anyone, other than Mr. Beier, who is into space like I am,” she said. “When I went to Space Camp I got to meet people who will probably be my lifelong friends. Hopefully I’ll be able to go on missions with them one day if I’m an astronaut, no WHEN I’m an astronaut.”

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Ironically enough, virtually every female that’s gone into space is a Girl Scout alumna.

Although she’s only in eighth grade, Amanda knows that big dreams take big plans. Her sights are currently set on MIT or Stanford and after college she plans to gain experience being a fighter pilot before she becomes an astronaut.

We have no doubt that Amanda will achieve her dreams and continue the Girl Scouts in space legacy.

Destination locations for 2016 have just been announced on GSUSA’s website. Head over there and see how you could help your Girl Scout achieve her own lifelong dream!

Hollywood Dreamin’

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When you have a love of Girl Scouts, a desire to travel and a deep passion for the arts, choosing to go to Los Angeles, California with Girl Scout destinations is a no-brainer. At least it was for Ambassador Girl Scout Amanda Johnson!

Amanda will be a senior at Raytown South High School and has been in Girl Scouts since she was a Daisy. When she found out about the destination opportunity through Girl Scouts of the USA, she started looking into where she wanted to go! As an aspiring YouTube personality, a film camp-type of experience in Hollywood was the perfect fit!

In July, Amanda packed her bags and jetted of to California for a week of experiences that would end up changing her life.

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Flying into LAX was an experience in itself.  Worried about celebrity encounters, a lot of thought and planning went into her outfit! “I actually wore sunglasses so I could scope things out. You know, you have to play it cool!”

As she was celebrity-spotting, Amanda was also looking for her fellow Girl Scout sisters and quickly learned that the easiest way to identify them is to look for a friendship circle.

“Once I saw a couple girls sitting in a circle together, I was like ‘those are the Girl Scouts!’”

As each Girl Scout landed at LAX, that friendship circle grew bigger and bigger until all 12 had arrived.

Duffle bags, pillows and cell phones in hand, the girls headed to California State University with their leaders to get settled into the campus apartments that they would call home for the next seven days.

The girls spent the evening getting to know each other and their group leaders as well as learning more about what they could expect out of the trip. For many of them, this was the first time they had ever experienced a college campus!

The objective of the “Hollywood Dreamin’” destination in Los Angeles was to give Girl Scouts a real life experience of producing a short film.

amanda 5Filled to the brim with French Vanilla Cappuccino from the cafeteria, the girls got right to work learning about the film industry from the three professionals that they would work with throughout the week. They were instructed that they would divide into two groups to create a 3-2-1 film: 3 page script, with 2 actors in 1 setting. After discussing the prompts given, both groups elected to do a comedy.

Amanda’s group talked through a story line of a young adult male throwing himself a birthday party but the only person to show up is the pizza delivery girl. One they got their idea firmed up, they got to work on their script!

The next morning Amanda and the other girls got to tour Warner Bros. Studios and learn about “film magic”. They toured some popular TV sets including that of Pretty Little Liars. Amanda  loved touring the different pieces of the set and seeing how the show works. She made sure to share her experience with fellow show fans through snapchat!

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After the tour each group took their script into pre-production with a team of cinematographers. This is where Amanda learned the most about the industry. Professionals walked through the script with her group, blocking the actor’s movements and talking about the types of shots they wanted. They became familiar with industry terms and learned how various shot types impact what the audience feels!

“You have to take your time, there are details that will make or break it,” Amanda said.

While filming, Amanda got to do a little bit of everything. She directed, ran sound, operated the boom mic and various other tasks!

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“It was neat to see how the actors interpreted our work,” she said.

While their film was only 4 minutes, it took a full day of filming to get everything captured. Amanda learned about little details that you have to pay attention to, such as clocks that are on the set!

Their last full day was spent editing the video, touring LA and concluding with a screening party that night.

“Everyone was very impressed with each other’s work,” Amanda said

Amanda and her team’s work was so impressive that the professionals recommended they submit it with their college applications if they apply to film school.

“Basically I have a new passion. I now understand film more,” she said.

In just six short days these Girl Scouts did it all. They created 2 short films, toured Warner Brothers Studios, explored LA and built friendships with other Girl Scouts that will last a lifetime.

The whole destination experience was memorable for Amanda.

“Film is the production, the writing, thinking, creating, communicating, and advertising. It’s everything. I I’ll definitely use all the skills I learned in whatever career I choose.”

The group has plans to visit each other in the future, but for now they’ll keep their group chat active!

Be on the lookout for an Amanda Johnson YouTube Channel in the future!

We have no doubt that Amanda will be a sensation in whatever she chooses to pursue!

Check out Amanda’s video “Cry if You Want to” here!

There are domestic and international destinations for Girl Scouts who are 11 years old and up. Maybe your girl will fuel her passion on a trip of a lifetime, like Amanda. Destination locations for 2016 will be posted on the GSUSA webpage on August 15!